prairie flower

16 Sep

BY Ryan Simms
Upstairs at the Gatehouse.
Danny O’Halloran, known as Skinny Dan, born in 1936 , died in July the subject of this play. He was a member of the London gangland. A contemporary of the Great Train Robbers and during the time of the Krays.
This play is by his son Ryan Simms. A young man who – to his father’s horror decided to go into acting. Dan was very much against him following in father’s footsteps and becoming a villain. He wanted his son to be respectable, in an office. But Ryan was fascinated in the life story of his father and wanted to play the role of his father and tell the story without making him a hero. Danny may have been a thief and a murderer, but at home he was just Dad.
Danny got into crime at a very early age, making his way robbing banks, fighting with his contemporaries, leading into murder. He knew the Krays and the first few minutes of the show outlines his experiences with them.
The show is in two parts and the second part is about his experiences in prison serving a ten year sentence and in solitary for three months. That meant living with electric light on night and day, sleeping in a cold cell ridden with cockroaches, no books, no paper to write on no pens. All he could do was sit and think and later to tell his tale to his son Ryan.
Obviously, this is a very fascinating story, but. I would have been a little happier had he not – rightly I guess – done it in true Cockney accent. My problem was that I had a lot of trouble trying to follow it. My hope that it will be recorded so I can listen at leisure without having to strain.
This is the strangest theatrical performance ever with absolutely no production values, just two chairs and lights that can only be on or off.
Ryan learnt his acting skills f rom the poor School and Paul Caister, the founder of this institution helped Ryan to develop the script and directs the play. Caister shares the stage playing himself, sitting on another chair, facing the just visible star-cloth from a previous Gatehouse production. I was sorry that he directed most of his speeches upstage.
A fascinating evening, with no frills and sometimes difficult to follow.

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